News

Campus Shutdown Notice

In light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we have decided to close our administrative offices starting Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice.  Cory and Soda Hall are closed.  Classes are being held remotely.  All events in Cory and Soda Halls will either be cancelled or held remotely, and staff will be working remotely during this time.

Gloria Tumushabe offers young Ugandan women a chance to code during the pandemic

EECS 5th Year Master's student Gloria Tumushabe is the subject of a Berkeley News article titled "COVID Stories: The chance to teach young Ugandan women to code."  A MasterCard Foundation Scholar from Uganda, Tumushabe had always wanted to teach.   When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, she realized that many Ugandan schools were closed, remote learning opportunities would be scarce, and there would be even fewer programs to motivate and empower young women to learn code in her native country.  So she created a pilot program called Afro Femm Coders, which targeted promising 19- and 20-year-olds who had finished high school but whose educational opportunities had evaporated because of the pandemic.   Overcoming challenges, like a shortage of laptops and poor Wi-Fi connectivity, and drafting other graduate students to help as tutors, she began teaching 13 young women the skills that would allow them to create computer software, apps and websites, free from the intimidation and danger that they would usually have to face.

Randy Katz to step down as Vice Chancellor for Research

EECS Prof. and alumnus Randy Katz (M.S. '78 / Ph.D. '80) has announced that he will be retiring in June 2021, and will step down as UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Research.  During his tenure as vice chancellor, Katz demonstrated a deep commitment to research excellence at Berkeley, helping to expand the annual research funding budget from $710M to over $800M by vigorously supporting major, multi-year, federally and industrially funded research centers. Philanthropic support for research on campus has also greatly expanded under his guidance with the creation of the Weill Neurohub and Bakar BioEnginuity Hub.   He established the position of a central chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer and encouraged new approaches to managing the University’s intellectual property assets, thereby generating substantial campus revenue.  He oversaw the repatriation of sacred belongings to the Native American community, and revitalized the leadership of campus Organized Research Units (ORUs); leading the campus through complex but orderly ramp-down and ramp-up of research activities in the face of major disruptions, including Public Safety Power Shutdowns, air quality emergencies, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  He also helped lead the International Engagement Policy Task Force to foster international collaboration while safeguarding the campus against undue foreign influence.  During his time in the EECS department, Katz oversaw 52  Ph.D. dissertations and has been honored with the campus Distinguished Teach Award.

Progress update: E3S 2019 Transfer-to Excellence program

The Center for Energy Efficient Electronics Science (E3S) Transfer-to-Excellence (TTE) research program is a competitive merit-based program that offers California community college students research opportunities at Berkeley in an effort to encourage them to transfer to a university to purse a Bachelor's degree in science and engineering.  A review of the current activities of the 2019 TTE cohort, whose members received ongoing mentorship over the past year through the TTE online mentoring program, shows that all of the interns are enrolled in science or engineering academic programs and working towards a Bachelor’s degree.  Among them:

Jared Brown (TTE project advisor: EECS Prof. Sayeef Salahuddin), who transferred from Los Angeles Pierce College to UCLA to study mechanical engineering, and is active in the UCLA Samueli Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity; Jose Camacho (advisor: EECS Prof. Ming Wu), who transferred from Los Angeles Trade Technical College to  UC San Diego to study Electrical Engineering; Saifuddin Mohammed (advisor: EECS Chair Jeff Bokor), who transferred from Foothill College to UC Berkeley to study EECS after having received the award for best engineering poster presentation at the 2019 SACNAS Diversity in STEM conference, and completing a research internship at LBNL;  current EECS undergrad Harutyun Rehanyan (advisor: ME Prof. Shawn Shadden), who transferred to Berkeley from Los Angeles Valley College after completing a research internship at Cal State Northridge, a software engineering internship with NASA JPL, and summer research at CMU’s Institute for Software Research; and current EECS undergrad Dao Dai (David) Tran (advisor: ME Prof. Shawn Shadden), who transferred from Orange Coast College to Berkeley after completing a software engineering internship at NASA JPL and a research internship at the University of Maryland in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

GRE-blind graduate admissions, expanded fee waivers highlight EECS focus on equity and diversity

As the largest department at UC Berkeley, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) [over 130 faculty, 730 graduate students, and 3,450 undergraduates] has long recognized the challenge of attracting, admitting, and graduating doctoral students who will enrich the diversity of the field.

In the context of the recently heightened awareness of the damage caused by structural racism nationwide, Black student leaders, among others, have suggested a number of improvements to address racial climate challenges and other sources of inequity in the department. In response, EECS has stepped up its equity and inclusion efforts in all aspects of Department operations—teaching, research, graduate student recruitment and retention, and faculty recruitment and retention.   A task force, consisting of student leaders, faculty, staff, and Department leadership, has been assembled to provide continuity and accountability across all our diversity efforts on an ongoing basis, particularly efforts to address racism and social justice in EECS.

In response to growing concerns that hurdles created by the COVID-19 pandemic would further disadvantage applicants who do not have equal access, the Department has decided to completely remove the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) from consideration for graduate applicants for 2021 admission. This decision is consistent with a number of our peer institutions in the Diversifying Future Leadership in the Professoriate (FLIP) Alliance.  According to data collected by the Black In AI mentoring program, co-founded by new Berkeley EECS faculty member Rediet Abebe, many qualified candidates do not actually apply to many graduate programs due to the financial and logistical burdens of taking the exam and submitting scores. Next Spring, EECS will review the impact of this decision on graduate applications and admissions for 2021, and then make a decision regarding GRE use for Fall 2022 and subsequent years.

In addition, fee waivers for application to graduate school have been expanded across campus to allow more students to afford an application to Berkeley. The Department hopes these efforts will attract more talented minority students to apply, and will determine how effective these measures  have been during the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.

Dawn Tilbury and Feng Zhou to present keynotes at BCS 2020

EECS alumni Dawn Tilbury (EE PhD '94, advisor: Shankar Sastry) and Feng Zhou (CS PhD '07, advisor: Eric Brewer) have been selected to present keynote addresses at the Berkeley China Summit (BCS) 2020 conference, which will be held virtually on September 18-19th.  BCS is  a full-day conference that aims to connect China’s businesses and investors with the technology, engineering, and business innovation expertise on the UC Berkeley campus and across the Bay Area.  This year's theme is "Redefine & Reconnect: Technology Empowering the World," which will a focus on the impact business, technology and culture have on "innovation in the Enterprise Service, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare and Senior Care sectors."  Tilbury is currently the head of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate of Engineering.  Zhou founded Youdao, Inc. (NYSE: DAO.US), a Chinese company that provides "learning services and products" for online courses, NetEase Cloud Classroom, and Chinese University MOOC, in addition to online marketing services.

EECS 150W: Sheila Humphreys and WiCSE

In celebration of 150 Years of Women at Berkeley, the EECS Director Emerita of Diversity (and Berkeley 150W History Project co-chair) Sheila Humphreys tells the story of  Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (WiCSE), the first student group at an American university created to support and increase the number of women in those fields.   WiCSE was born when the political foment of 1970s Berkeley met the burgeoning field of computer science in Evans Hall.  Humphreys charts WiCSE's path from the formation of the first women's clubs at Berkeley one hundred years before, to its 40th reunion in 2018.  WICSE has established itself as a permanent force in EECS: a powerful voice for women students, a model of peer engagement and support, and a pipeline for women into the fields of EE and CS.  Humphreys' life-long mission to diversify the global population of computer scientists and engineers is the subject of July's Notable Women of EECS profile.

Tsu-Jae King Liu

Tsu-Jae King Liu wins 2020 Chang-Lin Tien Award for Leadership in Education

EECS Prof. and dean of the College of Engineering Tsu-Jae King Liu has won the 2020 Chang-Lin Tien Leadership in Education Award.  The award honors an Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) who has achieved "significant academic accomplishments and demonstrates the potential to advance to the highest leadership levels in higher education." Recipients are awarded $10K to establish a Chang-Lin Tien Scholarship Fund for AAPI students at their university.  The award was named in honor of Berkeley ME Prof. Chang-Lin Tien, who became the first AAPI to head a major US research university when he was elected Chancellor of UC Berkeley in 1990.  “This award is especially humbling to me," said King Liu, "because Dr. Tien was Chancellor when I joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1996. I was touched by his warmth as a human being and affection for all things related to Berkeley, and am inspired by his example to advance the university’s noble mission of research, education, and service for the betterment of society.”

Michael Athans, pioneer in control theory, has died

EECS alumnus Michael Athans (B.S. '58/M.S. '59/Ph.D. '61, adivsor: Otto J. M. Smith), a pioneer in the field of control theory, has died at the age of 83.   Athans, who was born in Greece and graduated under the surname Athanassiades, had been a professor of electrical engineering at MIT for 34 years before retiring in 1998.  He helped shape modern control theory by developing central methodologies geared toward large-scale systems, which broadened the scope of the field, and helped spearhead the area of multivariable control system design and the field of robust control.  He became the director of the MIT Electronic Systems Laboratory in 1974, and renamed it the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) four years later, reflecting the lab’s expansion into new domains like transportation, energy, and economics.  Athans was also an award-winning educator, supervising the theses of more than 100 graduate students, producing nearly 70 videotaped lessons for practicing engineers, developing coursework, and co-authoring three books, including the foundational text “Optimal Control" (with Peter Falb).

Gary May: "George Floyd could have been me"

EECS alumnus Gary S. May (M.S. '88/Ph.D. '91, advisor: Costas Spanos), the first Black chancellor of UC Davis, has penned an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle titled "UC Davis chancellor: George Floyd could have been me" in which he observes that "at a traffic stop, no one knows I am a chancellor. No one knows I have a doctorate."  He explains that building an inclusive society that recognizes and respects people of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and a wide variety of political views, gender identities, and personal experiences, will increase our capacity to "make discoveries and solve problems."  "It requires collective effort," he writes.  "It requires each one of us, in our own way, working to make a difference, whether that’s through video recording, peaceful protest or working to change procedures that reflect bias."

Olivia Hsu to give speech at national IEEE-HKN virtual graduation celebration

EECS alumna Olivia Hsu (B.S. '19) will be giving a speech at the national 2020 IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) virtual graduation celebration on Saturday, May 30, 2020.  Hsu is the winner of the 2019 IEEE-HKN Alton B. Zerby and Carl T. Koerner Outstanding Electrical or Computer Engineering Student of the Year Award, and is the representative for the Mu (Berkeley) Chapter, which has won the IEEE-HKN Outstanding Chapter Award every year since 2001.   While at Berkeley, Hsu co-founded the student group Space Technologies at Cal (STAC) and won the 2019 EECS Arthur M. Hopkin award, which recognizes outstanding EE undergraduates who "demonstrate seriousness of purpose and high academic achievement."  She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Stanford with a focus on computer architecture, digital circuits, and computer systems.  IEEE-HKN will host the event for the first time this year in place of the campus commencement ceremonies which  have been cancelled nationwide.